Churchville Park 11/14/10

On Sunday we took a trip up to Bucks County to Churchville Park in Churchville PA.  You can visit it’s website at http://www.churchvillenaturecenter.org/ to get more information.  As far as birdwatching goes, the place was amazing!  I was responding to a report of 4 Hooded Mergansers and 1 Common Merganser, because they would have been two lifers for me.  Although I didn’t get those two ducks, I did get two other lifers that were very unexpected!  To start our birding adventure, we first went to the bird blind next to the nature center.  That turned out to be very promising, for it held some birds like Purple Finches,

This is a female Purple Finch. Notice the white striping on the bird's face.

not to be mistaken for House Finches.  The two can easily be distinguished by the Purple Finch female’s heavy streaking on their breast and stomach, compared to the House Finch female’s lighter streaking.  Also, the female Purple Finch has prominent white stripes on their face.

And finally, the male Purple Finches have much more red or purple (or whatever color you want to call it), all around the top half of it’s body.  The habitat in the bird blind area was amazing, and catered to a variety of different kinds of birds with a small pond, multiple tube and hopper feeders, a platform feeder, and natural conditions under evergreen trees and shrubs. Even the seed scattered on the ground brought a good crowd of birds on it’s own.  One of the lifers was spotted from the bird blind, and that was a Fox Sparrow. 

Notice the rust colors on this Fox Sparrow.

Notice the heavy rust streaking on this guy's throat.

Fox Sparrows have eluded me for years; I’m always mistaking them for Song Sparrows in the winter.  The two are easily distinguished by the Song Sparrow’s slightly smaller size and the Fox Sparrow’s yellow and black beak compared to the Song Sparrow’s pale pinkish beak, As well as the Fox Sparrow’s heavy rusty striping all over the front of their bodies.  The Fox Sparrows stand out in flight more than you would believe, also because of their rust color all over their bodies.  The next lifer was a Rusty Blackbird

This male Rusty Blackbird has little noticeable irredescence, compared to the two different Grackles.

See the Rust color on the top half of the female Rusty Blackbird.

which was located on a small mud flat off of the green trail (can be seen on the trail map) near the lake overlook.  I noticed that this bird is a rather uncommon visitor for that time and place based on the information that I have gathered from my resources.  My resource, http://www.ebird.com, only has in it’s archives that there have been three sightings of Rusty Blackbirds there, twice in 2008 and again in 2009.  None of the sightings had the quantity of birds that I witnessed (5), so I felt lucky to have seen them.  They are also distinguished easily from even their closest look-alike birds, Common Grackles and Boat-Tailed Grackles by the two Grackle’s iridescence compared to the Blackbird’s plain black feathers, as well as the Grackle’s much larger size than the Blackbird.  Basically, this place is a great place for birdwatching because of a wide variety of habitats and would be a good place to visit at any time of the year.

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